West Indies and Pakistan forced to practice elsewhere March 13, 2007

Worries over Sabina Park's readiness


Sabina Park will be ready for the first match despite problems with the practice facilities, according to Andy Roberts © Getty Images

Pakistan and West Indies were forced to scrap plans for their final World Cup training sessions at Sabina Park on Monday because the facilities were not ready. The teams meet in the World Cup opener at the venue on Tuesday but had to practice at nearby Kensington Oval in Kingston.

Andy Roberts, the former West Indies fast-bowling great, who is now a pitch consultant for the World Cup, said Sabina would be able to stage the first game as scheduled. He said the net pitches had been used as a dumping ground while renovation work was done at the stadium.

"It is something that should never have happened but at this late stage there is no point trying to rush them for these games," he told Reuters. "What we need to do now is make sure they [the nets] are ready for the semi-finals. In fact, they will be ready for the semi-finals but there won't be much grass on them."

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said: "If you're asking why it's happened you're talking to the wrong man. We would rather practice on good facilities than facilities that are not ready."

West Indies were awarded the World Cup in 1998, but their captain Brian Lara said the problem was a "little hiccup". "From what I have seen so far, all the local organising committees have tried their best," he said. "I think they know the importance of this tournament. Each big tournament and each event like the Olympics, although I have never been involved, they all have little hiccups."

There was nobody immediately available from the Jamaica organising committee to comment on the Sabina Park problems. The International Cricket Council (ICC) is investigating the matter and declined to comment.